This London Hotel Takes Inspiration From The Days Of Transatlantic Travel

As we approach the end of 2022, it’s safe to say that London has returned to pre-pandemic tourism numbers, if not increased. Faced with a strong dollar against the pound, the number of Americans eager to cross the pond only grew. (The United Kingdom was also called travel + leisure2023 destination of the year.) While the sprawling metropolis has dozens of neighborhoods and hundreds of hotels to choose from, with Mayfair, Shoreditch and Covent Garden all vying for attention, there’s a unique South Bank stay worth considering. : London Sea Containers.

Originally designed by an American architect named Warren Peltner, this building once housed the office headquarters of a defunct (pun intended) shipping container company. In recent years, it has found better fortune as a chic marine hotel designed to resemble a glamorous transatlantic cruise from the 1920s, albeit with modern touches like a full-service spa, a rooftop bar, and a sustainability program committed to reducing carbon emissions by 66 percent by 2030.

Then, there’s the location. Guests can walk along the River Thames in one direction to reach the Tate Modern and Borough Market, and in the other direction to reach the London Eye and Westminster Bridge. You can also catch stunning views of St Paul’s Cathedral from many areas of the hotel to send constant reminders: you are in London.

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Here’s a peek inside the glamorous London hotel

London Hotel
Image credit: Niall Clutton/courtesy Sea Containers Hotel

Entering the lobby of sea containers will transport you to another world. London-based designer Tom Dixon, along with Universal Design Studio, revamped the interiors, adding bold pop art like the huge blue Knot sculpture, as well as a reception desk tucked into a curved copper wall designed to look like the hull of a ship.

The hotel lobby
Photo credit: James McDonald/Courtesy of Sea Containers Hotel

The copper wall leads to a long corridor with a marquee board where you can follow the staff’s daily quote. At the far end of the hotel is a relaxed but stylish restaurant open all day serving American and British cuisine using fresh seasonal ingredients. The menu is designed for sharing, with small and large plates like burgers and flatbreads, and more creative items like chicken mousse with pickled mushrooms and halibut with shaved oyster soup. Grab a seat on a pale yellow banquette or ask for a table outside and watch passers-by stroll along the River Thames.

Michal Yam restaurant
Photo credit: James McDonald/Courtesy of Sea Containers Hotel

Next to the restaurant is a luxurious lounge called Lyaness, headed by an award-winning barman known as Mr. Lyan, which also overlooks the Thames. The interiors combine brass fixtures and varying shades of soft blue in the lampshades, painted walls and plush seating that contrasts with the green marble bar. This is where talented bartenders prepare creative cocktails, although you can always opt for a non-alcoholic afternoon tea menu.

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London Hotel
Photo credit: James McDonald/Courtesy of Sea Containers Hotel

To reach the 359 stylish rooms, suites and apartments, ride the elevators with colorful life-size characters. The standard rooms come with custom furniture (again from Tom Dixon), dimmable lights, free Wi-Fi, minibars, and marble bathrooms with rain showers and Melin + Gotz bath products. Upgrade to a variety of categories for more space and views, such as the Riverview Balcony Suite with floor-to-ceiling windows and a private balcony overlooking London, or a Superior Patio Room with a generous ivy-covered outdoor dining area.

Screening room
Image credit: Niall Clutton/courtesy Sea Containers Hotel

If you need a health boost, visit the underground spa, called Agua, which features a variety of unique holistic treatments. There are 14 treatment rooms decorated in soothing neutral tones along with meditation beds, plus a dedicated chill-out area with interesting artwork to view while hydrating. There’s also a state-of-the-art gym, open 24/7, so you can keep up your exercise routine, although it’s hard to beat a morning jog along the river just outside the hotel.

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London Hotel
Photo credit: Ed Reeve/courtesy Sea Containers Hotel

After dark, head to a rooftop bar called the 12th Knot, with jewel shades and hanging balls made of tiny white lights. The open-plan layout boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor terrace, so you’ll get panoramic views of London’s skyline whatever the weather. Come during the week for a more relaxed atmosphere, or join a lively mix of locals and travelers on weekend evenings when DJs spin tunes.

Agua Spa
Image credit: Niall Clutton/courtesy Sea Containers Hotel

Of course, you can always find solace in the hotel’s cozy den, ideal for sipping a glass of wine and reading one of London’s daily papers. The property also has a 56-seat screening room featuring new releases. Children are welcome in the theater, or you can inquire about babysitting services at the concierge desk.

A hotel in London
Image credit: Niall Clutton/courtesy Sea Containers Hotel

Although not for traditionalists, Sea Containers is a fun and vibrant hotel option in the up-and-coming South Bank district, with contemporary styling, full amenities and iconic views. At the very least, stop for refreshments on your leisurely stroll along the River Thames.

Book your stay here

This story first appeared on

Main image and feature credit: Niall Clutton/courtesy Sea Containers Hotel

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